I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
erotica, romance in eBook edition that was published by Berkley on December 3, 2013 and has 416 pages.
Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.
Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Unlaced, Holding the Cards, Ice Queen
This is a standalone novel about dealing with grief and gaining confidence in oneself, trusting others, using a BDSM relationship as the framework.
“When people strike out at you for being who you are, most times it’s because of something about themselves, not about you. They liked having you meeting all their expectations.”
This was amazing, and no, not for the sex, lol. Two early middle-aged people with their particular brand of scars. Beautiful in how it addressed Athena learning to accept herself, in how it dealt with grief and her memories, and with the number of thoughtful statements about life. It’s also about Dale, a retired Navy SEAL, coping with the loss of a leg, how his dominating AND caring nature is obvious in his daily life.
“Emotions and loss were things all people faced, no matter what path they walked.”
I love that Hill combines good writing with an actual story that she fills out with the BDSM relationship. Okay, okay, I didn’t care for the specifics of the relationship; I’d say this type of D/s is definitely not my cup of tea. Had my hackles rising at times. And the way in which Hill portrayed it felt very real. More reality comes in when Hill compares a Dom evaluation, the subspace it takes the sub to, to a military mission. It’s an interesting comparison.
“Feelings go where they want to. [No one] has any control over those.”
Athena is a real person, doing real things. Sure, she’s incredibly wealthy which makes it easy for her to support all these charities, but it’s not a given that the wealthy are as supportive as she is.
“When you hold on to your fantasies and dreams, your perception of the real world is transformed by them. Whether you achieve them or not, holding on to that magic gives you a different way of viewing everything.”
It’s an exploration of Athena’s true self. The mistress Roy needed versus the service Athena needs to give. Dale is the perfect man to help her understand, for he’s both amazingly sensitive and quite the disciplinarian.
Hill’s comment about religions cracked me up:
“‘Isn’t it peculiar, how many religions get worked up over two guys going at it, but they don’t say diddly about two women?’
‘Just proves men wrote religious texts.'”
Dang, I’m jealous over how well Dale has his dogs trained!
It’s a lot of should-I/shouldn’t I as Athena tries to get up the nerve to ask Dale for what she needs. It’s so far outside the realm of what she’s experienced, outside of her control, and she keeps backing down. It’s Dale’s forcefulness that helps push her into acknowledging her needs and revealing her wants.
Roy has been dead for several years, but Athena still mourns his loss. It’s only now, several years later, that she’s comfortable in returning to Club Release and remembering how much it reminds her of the euphoria she finds in church.
It’s another euphoria that will put her on the path of healing.
A widow who originally came from old money, Athena Francesca Summers, a.k.a., Lady Mistress, runs the corporation, Summers Industries, she and Roy “Rocket” Summers built. She also understands the need to support charities. Lynn is her head housekeeper and cook. Delray is Lynn’s son. Beth is Lynn’s assistant. Hector is her groundskeeper. Amy is Roy’s niece; Evelyn is Roy’s sister.
Former Master Chief Dale Rousseau, a.k.a., Master “MC” Craftsman is his nickname at the club, for how he lays out his instruments, how he plays his “instruments”. Athena is impressed with how Dale continues his dominating outside the life. Dale also runs a dog shelter and loves to garden. His dogs include Rom, Sheba, Rusty, and Perry. Bert is a dad. Ed Senior, the owner of a junkyard, was the father of a SEAL with whom Dale had served.
Club Release is…
…a BDSM club Roy and Athena used to frequent. Jimmy, a bisexual switch, tends bar. Dillon and Seth are subs interested in whether Athena is coming back. Willow, Marsha, and Sally are submissives who are regulars at the club. Mistresses Sheila and Amy are quite judgmental Dommes. Gerald is another Dom who does a lot of demonstrations. Club Progeny is another, similar club.
Everyone’s motive is different; no one should be judged for their preferences.
Ellen is Athena’s compassionate administrative assistant. Read about the encounter with Nancy Allen to understand that one. Mel Harper is on the board and eager for Athena to retire. Larry is more interested in under her skirts than higher on the board. Tessie Maddox in Shipping has had twins.
Neil and Lawrence are SEAL buddies of Dale’s, bringing 36 at-risk boys to a day at Athena’s. The boys include Elliott and Jason. Maryann and Chuck teach tennis; Carl is a golf pro; and, John is a caddy and an excellent golfer. They all want to help out.
Matt Kensington, head of Kensington & Associates, is married to Savannah, CEO of Tennyson Industries. Rex is the driver with a car service.
The Cover and Title
The cover has a black background with black nylon-clad legs in red pumps, the legs bound neatly in three separate four-cord wraps of red. The author’s name is in white with the title at the bottom in red.
The title covers so much ground, for Athena becomes Unrestrained in accepting who she is and moving on with her life.